It took all of one week in the new season for A.J. Green to remind everyone he's still one of the game's best receivers. The Bengals needed every bit of it, as Sunday's clash in New York was a major struggle for their offense.
Cincinnati allowed seven sacks, ran for 57 yards, averaged 3.0 yards per carry, and converted just 3-of-11 third downs. All of this would spell disaster in many cases, but the Bengals had one thing that outweighed all of their struggles, and that was Green.
Against a Jets defense that finished 2015 fourth in total defense, Green tied his career high with 12 catches — 10 of which came against All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis — and finished with 180 yards and one score.
That was the fourth-highest yardage mark Green has hit in his 81 career games (including playoffs), and Cincinnati needed every yard to pull off a one-point win.
While the 54-yard score and Green’s crazy diving grab got the spotlight, it was Green’s key fourth-quarter grab in the final minute that put the Bengals in position to kick the game-winning field goal.
With the Bengals needing a big gain to get within manageable field goal range for Mike Nugent, the Jets and Revis knew Green was getting the ball, but Green was still able to get open and make the key grab.
With two Monday Night Football games to be played, Green is the NFL's leader in catches and yards, which also helped him earn Pro Football Focus’ highest grade of any receiver in Week 1.
Wide receiver: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, 93.1
Green might have dismantled Revis Island once and for all. He caught 12 of the 13 passes sent his way for 180 yards and a score, and while not all of those receptions came against Revis, he did catch the ball every time he was targeted with the Jets' star corner in coverage (eight times)
As alluded to, Green embarrassed Revis when those two were matched up. Revis has been regarded as one of, if not the NFL's best corner for almost a decade, but Green had little trouble beating the future Hall of Famer time after time on Sunday. In fact, Green’s performance was the third best by a wide receiver in a game in which Revis played. Randy Moss (183 yards in 2007) and Wes Welker (192 yards in 2009) are the only two receivers who have topped what Green did when it comes to yardage on Sunday, per ESPN Stats & Info.
But while many players in Green's shoes would have boasted of their game and smoking one of the NFL's best corners, Green did what we sadly don't see enough in sports. He was a humble victor who praised the man he beat like a drum for four quarters.
"That guy has nothing else to prove," Green said of Revis, via ESPN. "He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer for sure. I'm trying to get where he is."
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis expected nothing less. Even though his teams had lost five-straight games (including playoffs) in which Revis was on the opposing team, Lewis was not surprised to see Green do what he did Sunday.
"He's everything as advertised," Lewis said. "We know that, in every way."